A/N: This was written as a yuletide exchange stocking stuffer treat for literaturecrazy who wanted to see what would have happened if Magnus hadn't so forcefully stopped Alec's confession in City of Ashes. All Characters belong to Cassandra Clare. No copyright infringment is intended.


"Mother." Alec's voice as he interrupted his mother was firm, implacable, and not unkind. "Father. There's something I have to tell you." He smiled at them. "I'm seeing someone."

Robert Lightwood looked at his son with some exasperation. "Alec," he said. "This is hardly the time."

"Yes it is. This is important. You see, I'm not just seeing anyone"

"Alec," a soft voice called from behind him. Magnus. He couldn't tell if the single word was meant to be warning or encouraging. It didn't matter.

"I'm seeing a Warlock."

The room fell deathly quiet. Maryse Lightwood blinked three times in rapid succession and opened and closed her mouth without making a single sound. It was Robert who found his voice first. "You're seeing a Witch." The Shadowhunter spoke the question without inflection, as if it were a statement. As if by stating it so bluntly, he could make it true.

"That's not what I said," Alec was surprised at how steady his own voice sounded. His boldness seemed to be feeding itself, so that the more he said, the more he wanted to say. "I said I'm seeing a Warlock."

He watched as Clary shot a panicked, almost guilty expression at Jace, who was leaning against the wall with that devil-may-care nonchalance that always drove Alec crazy. Isabelle covered her face with her hands, and Magnus was fidgeting with the hem of his shirt. His parents were stock still, not moving, hardly even blinking. A surge of pride shot through Alec that he was the only one not showing open signs of nervous discomfort, even though he'd spent sleepless nights awake, fearing the day that such a scene as this would be forced upon him.

It was then that Alec noticed someone else in the room with them, someone standing behind his parents. The Inquisitor.

He knew, intellectually, that he should be worried about what her presence there might mean. But he wasn't, not at all. There was none of the usual tightness in his chest, none of the worry or strain or fear that he lived with constantly, and that he'd been able to find no rest from since Hodge left and with him, his tonics. Alec felt, for the first time in a long time, good.

He smiled at her as she stepped around his still silent parents. She smiled back, though it was not a friendly expression. It was cold, predatory. Alec grinned again.

"Perhaps I heard you incorrectly, but it seemed that you said you were seeing a Warlock?"

"I did," Alec shrugged his shoulders.

"Romantically?" The Inquisitor raised one eyebrow.

"Oh, he's pretty romantic." Alec smirked. "You wouldn't think he would be, but he is. Last week he-"

"What you are saying, then," The Inquisitor interrupted him sharply, "is that you are involved in a homosexual relationship with a Downworlder."

"Yes," Alec said, and twisted around to give Magnus-who looked positively stricken-a small smile. The warlock pulled his bottom lip between his teeth, but did not smile back. For a moment Alec wondered if maybe Magnus had wanted to keep this secret, but it was too late for that now.

Noticing the exchange, Maryse shook off her stupor. "You!" she hissed, pointing at Magnus. "You are behind this. Whatever scheme you and the rest of the Downworld scum are plotting-"

Alec felt Magnus tense behind him and he took an instinctive, protective step to block him from his mother's words.

"He is not scum." Alec's words were hard, steady. "And this isn't some scheme."

Robert Lightwood stepped forward and looked pleadingly at his son. "You don't know that, Alec. Downworlders have-"

"Will you stop it with the bigotry! You can't lump people into groups and judge them that way. Magnus isn't-"

"Downworlders," Robert spoke conversationally "are not-"

"Downworlders are not people." Magnus interrupted, and stepped forward, until he was shoulder to shoulder with Alec. "That's what you were going to say, isn't it? I could say the same for a few Nephilim. I've seen some of you do evils that make some lesser demons seem downright angelic, Robert." Magnus emphasized the older Shadowhunter's name, and not for the first time, Alec wondered if they'd met before.

"The Clave will be most interested in this...development." The Inquisitor was smug, glancing loftily back and forth between Alec and his parents. "Your capability to run an entire Institute is questionable, seeing that your own household is such a mockery."

Magnus reached down and grabbed Alec's hand. Alec squeezed it once.

"What, with that," she pointed at their intertwined fingers, "and with you raising up dear old Valentine's son for him. Well┘I doubt the Clave is going to be impressed." She looked over at Jace then, and her sinister grin spread wider across her bitter face. "And that brings us to the reason for our little visit. You've been a busy little boy, Jonathan Morgenstern."

Alec registered the set of Jace's facial features, and something heavy settled back inside his stomach. Something was wrong; Jace was worried. Alec could see it, even if no one else could. He watched the Inquisitor stalk over to the blond, and for the first time since Jace's stele had marked him that afternoon, Alec was afraid.